. . .many Muslim groups are denouncing the ban as oppression to freedom of religion. However, such Muslim groups will be more credible if they first denounced the oppression of religious minorities in Muslim countries who make it illegal to practice any religion other than Islam.

by Jerry Gordon, The Iconoclast, November 30, 2009

My colleagues at Former Muslims United (FMU) issued a press release commending the Swiss Referendum victory to ban construction of Minarets for the approximately 150 Mosques serving the estimated 400,000 Muslim faithful in the alpine republic of 7.5 million.

Darwish of FMU said: “the Swiss referendum victory is the equivalent of banning what Turkish PM Erdogan called: ‘the bayonets of Islam.’ Supporters of a ban claim that allowing minarets would represent the growth of an ideology and a legal system – Sharia law – which are incompatible with Swiss democracy. The Swiss Referendum victory drew a red line against Islamization in Europe.”

She also noted that “this referendum victory is a credit to Swiss citizens, especially women voters who viewed construction of Minarets as leading to adoption of other graphic elements of Sharia law including wearing of burkas in public by Muslim women.”

Score one for the doughty Apostates from Islam at the FMU. Only four Minarets exist currently at Mosques in Switzerland. Just about everyone in the Muslim ummah and main stream press castigated the Swiss for being violators of religious freedom and minority rights by not succumbing to further Islamization in their country.

Among the critics was Swiss citizen, Oxford University Professor Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the founder of the extremist Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, who was a fan of Hitler. Ramadan had his visa application to visit the U.S. in 2006 denied as a result of questions about his charitable gifts to the Palestinian terror group Hamas. The visa ban was lifted following a successful Federal Appeals court decision in July, 2009. Ramadan castigated his Swiss compatriots with these remarks in a Guardian U.K. op ed on the ban on Minaret construction, “My compatriots’ vote to ban minarets is fuelled by fear:”

The Swiss have voted not against towers, but Muslims. Across Europe, we must stand up to the flame-fanning populists . . .

It is as if the populists set the tone and the rest follow. They fail to assert that Islam is by now a Swiss and a European religion and that Muslim citizens are largely “integrated”. That we face common challenges, such as unemployment, poverty and violence – challenges we must face together. We cannot blame the populists alone – it is a wider failure, a lack of courage, a terrible and narrow-minded lack of trust in their new Muslim citizens.

Sunday’s Swiss Referendum victory banning minarets won handily according a report in Der Spiegel: ‘Germany Would Also Have Voted to Ban Minarets’.

More than 57.5 percent of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons voted in favor of the ban on Sunday. The initiative was brought by supporters of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party and a smaller party. The campaign’s organizers had argued that minarets are a symbol of a Muslim quest to dominate others and to introduce Shariah law, and that banning them would help stop an “Islamization” of Switzerland. Muslims make up around 5 percent of the Swiss population.

Der Spiegel went on to observe the reactions in Europe that hewed to the great divide of political sentiments:

Switzerland’s decision to ban the construction of minarets in a referendum on Sunday has drawn condemnation from politicians across Europe and from Muslim leaders, but far-right politicians have welcomed it as a courageous step that should be copied by other countries.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country’s top cleric, called the ban an “insult” to Muslims across the world but called on Muslims not to be provoked by the move. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he was shocked by the decision which showed “intolerance.”

However right-wing and far-right parties such as Italy’s Northern League and France’s National Front were quick to welcome the decision. The right-wing populist Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is famous for his anti-Islam views, called the result “great” and said he would push for a similar referendum in the Netherlands.

Covering the gamut of German domestic opinion about the Swiss banning minarets, Der Spiegel noted its appeal:

But mass circulation Bild, which can claim to have its finger on the nation’s pulse more than other newspapers, said Germans would probably vote the same way if they were allowed a referendum on the issue:

“The minaret isn’t just the symbol of a religion but of a totally different culture. Large parts of the Islamic world don’t share our basic European values: the legacy of the Enlightenment, the equality of man and woman, the separation of church and state, a justice system independent of the Bible or the Koran and the refusal to impose one’s own beliefs on others with ‘fire and the sword.’ Another factor is likely to have influenced the Swiss vote: Nowhere is life made harder for Christians than in Islamic countries. Those who are intolerant themselves cannot expect unlimited tolerance from others.”

In the United States, Muslim Brotherhood front CAIR used a letter to President Obama to raise its ire about the Swiss ban on minarets. Pakistani on-line publication, The Nation noted this about the CAIR letter to the President:

In an open letter to President Obama, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said . . .

“I also urge you to use the opportunity presented by your prime-time address to repudiate the decision of Swiss voters to deny Muslims in that nation the same religious rights granted to citizens of other faiths. Our nation’s silence on this flagrant denial of religious freedom would send a very negative message throughout the Muslim world, which must improve its own record on religious rights.

The argument of protection for minority rights was evident in a news release issued by the Washington-based Center for Study of Islam and Democracy:

As an organization that has consistently taken a stand against the violation of fundamental human, political, and religious rights wherever they may occur, the Board of Directors of CSID takes this opportunity to express its apprehension and disappointment over this development which points to a dangerous attrition in the Swiss people’s commitment to democratic values and augurs more generally a worsening of relations between Europe and Muslim-majority countries.

In conjunction with all people of faith, and all those who believe in freedom, equality, and democracy, we call upon the Swiss government and all Swiss political and religious leaders to continue to uphold and defend freedom of religion for all its citizens and residents. A democracy is measured not only by its application of majority rule, but also and more importantly by the respect it accords to the rights of minorities.

However, Darwish had this final comment on the Swiss ban on Minarets:

Darwish added that “many Muslim groups are denouncing the ban as oppression to freedom of religion. However, such Muslim groups will be more credible if they first denounced the oppression of religious minorities in Muslim countries who make it illegal to practice any religion other than Islam. Muslim groups who claim that they are oppressed in Europe should be the first to stand up and yell “not in the name of my religion” when Churches are burned in Muslim countries. But instead all we hear from Muslim groups is “I am a victim” and “I am offended” while the blood of non-Muslims is being shed in the name of Sharia.